Monday, November 12, 2018

Goffriller Cellos. For Cellists- Goffriller > Stradivarius?

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins,
and Ivana Truong

We've written several times about Stradivari's cellos. As beautiful as these instruments are, many are not in their original condition. Stradivarius made BIG cellos for much of his life and most of those big cellos have been 'cut down' to make them more playable for a modern concert cellist.
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Amit Peled on "Pablo", Pablo Casals'  1733 Goffriller
Matteo Goffriller, worked in about the same period as Stradivarius (1670s-1742, for Goffriller; 1670s -1737 for Straidvarius), but made a number of smaller cellos throughout his life. An uncut 1728 Goffriller cello has a back length of 757mm, as opposed to the 794mm of the Lord Aylesford Stradivarius. However, Goffriller's instruments vary greatly since he made every instrument to order. His cellos are smaller or larger, and made from better or worse quality materials depending on who it was made for, what type of sound they wanted, and how much they were willing to pay. Ahh, some things never change!

Monday, October 29, 2018

All About Tailpieces- Long, Short, and Fine Tuned

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins
and Ivana Truong
with comparison videos by Diane Houser and Megan Scott
A Schmidt Harp Style tailpiece made from Pernambuco

Tailpieces do far more than hold your strings on to your instrument. And then there's the BIG question of how many fine tuners to use, if any. One? Two? Four? None?

What sounds best? Or- does it affect your tone and playability at all?

Pernambuco tailpiece with four fine tuners made by Bois d'Harmonie

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Eva Mudocci- Violinist and Muse for Edvard Munch.

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins and
Ivana Truong

You know those stories about a picture or a violin or something turning up in grandma's attic after being stored away for 50 years? Very infrequently, it's actually something worth taking a second look at. Even less frequently, it's something of value.

St. Olaf College, in Northfield, MN had one of those moments recently. A painting that they've had in their collection and hung on the wall in the president's dining room for about 20 years might have been painted by Edvard Munch, the painter of "The Scream".

What caught my ear in this story was the speculation that the subject of the painting was a violinist, Eva Mudocci.
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"Eva", the possible Munch

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Know Your Rosin - It's a Sticky Situation

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins
and Ivana Truong

Magic Rosin with the Fein Violins logo  

It's been several years since we've blogged about Rosin.  The basics really haven't changed- Every string player needs rosin on their bow. And, in fact, the way the rosin works hasn't changed in several hundred years. But our understanding of how rosin works on a horsehair bow is becoming more in depth.

The differences in the many varieties and qualities of rosin for violin, viola, or cello seem to come from these factors- the season of the year the tapping is done, the specific species of evergreen that is tapped, how the rosin is refined from the resin, and what, if any, sprinklings of fairy dust are added.
Magic Rosin. It's clear!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Left Handed Violins

By Andy Fein, Luthier at Fein Violins
and Ivana Truong

Occasionally, we get calls from beginners, or their parents, desperately searching for a "left handed violin".  Andy's mother was a lefty and the cello expert at our shop is a lefty, so we know the challenges that left handed people face in many aspects of life. And we know that guitars are made left handed. But guitar construction is not the same as violin family construction or playing. So here's our contention (and Megan, a left-handed cellist absolutely agrees!)- VIOLINS (and violas, and cellos) ARE LEFT HANDED as they are standardly set up. That is, the fine finger movement and hand control necessary to play a stringed instrument is centered in the left hand. Lefties have an advantage when it comes to playing violin, viola or cello- their brains are already wired for the movements to play a violin family instrument. It's righties that have some brain training to do in this regard.

The bow is held in the right hand. While there is a lot of bow finesse to learn, it's mainly macro muscle arm and hand movements. So, again, lefties are already set up to play stringed instruments the way they are already constructed.

The insides of a violin look like this-
soundpost on the E (treble) side and a bass bar on the G (bass) side